your favorite book?

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mschenk2016

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My top two are LOTR and Stephen King's Dark Tower. I'm also a big fan of H.P. Lovecraft but those are more short stories/novellas. I actually had my hands on Tolkien's handwritten manuscript for LOTR. It's on permanent display in the library at Marquette University in Milwaukee, and I've visited twice. The second time it was behind glass but the first time was for a school field trip and the teacher made an appointment to have a guy take us into a room and let us pass a few pages around.
 

ChaseJxyz

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I'm not going to cheat in this thread and will actually only give 1 answer. It's the book that I own that I value the most and it's pretty high up there for "books I think about a lot": Expedition by Wayne Barlowe.

I, unknowingly, first got acquainted with it through the Discovery/Animal Planet tv special "Alien Planet." I always loved animals and biology/the sciences as a kid and loved all the cg dinosaur specials. There had already been "The Future is Wild,"* which was imagining future Earth animals and this special was going to be about life on an alien planet.They had Steven Hawking and Michio Kaku and Neil Degrasse Tyson talking about the things that were possible, everything was so weird but so grounded in real biology, I've never seen anything like it before.

Fast forward to a few years ago and somehow I'm researching some book that's about speculative biology. I find this Russian website that has all of these books up as PDFs** and checked out Expedition. I had NO idea that the special I loved so much growing up was an entire book. I read that PDF so many times and finally managed to track down a physical copy for $120+. In it, a fictionalized version of Barlowe is recruited as part of an expedition to a far-off planet to be a wildlife illustrator for the things there. There's beautiful paintings, inks, sketches, the text is him observing these animals and trying to figure out what it is they're doing and how they work. Part of the trip is that they cannot disturb the wildlife, so no gathering specimens to dissect. He only sees a small part of the world, there's still a lot of things he doesn't know, but it's a fully imagined world, where the same laws of physics and nature apply, but life has evolved in different ways. Being 3 legged or having no eyes doesn't slow anyone down.

There's no real plot to this story, only 1 real character, it's a slow meander around this fictional planet looking at things and digesting it, so it's definitely not something a lot of people would enjoy. But it is an amazing book and probably the peak of the speculative biology genre (with C.M. Kösemen's All Tomorrow's being a close second. At least he is happy to let me throw money at him via Patreon).

*Sorta based on After Man by Dougal Dixon, as Dreamworks or whoever has the actual rights to the animals in that book but have never done anything with it, so Dixon had to make a whole new batch of things for this special. I believe there was an "anime adaption" of After Man in Japan. Japan loooooves its spec bio

**Yes, I know piracy is bad, but the vast majority of these books were printed once in the 1980s or earlier and are firmly in the hands of collectors. One of the books I want, whenever it does show up on the market, is $300+, and now it's found new life as a meme so now it's even more impossible to get. I would happily pay $100+ for these books, and I have before, but they are simply just not for sale or ever reprinted. So what can you do.
 

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